Generation X-Box or Creatures of Habit – which electricity user are you?

Two boys playing on a computer console

Is your household part of Generation X-Box, or are you a member of The School Run or perhaps you prefer to have Fun in the Sun?

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has identified 10 different customer categories to understand electricity usage patterns and how the network could be managed to support them.

The findings, which are part of the £30m New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) project, will help electricity network operators understand customer usage patterns. This will help them manage the network and provide valuable insight to make sure future investment will provide value for money, while helping to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

Taking a similar approach to retail customer reward programmes, such as Nectar or Tesco Clubcard, which rely on rich data to improve customer offerings, the NTVV project team in partnership with the University of Reading, used millions of data points captured on the low voltage electricity network in Bracknell to create each category.

The 10 groups are:

  1. Work hard/play hard - Spend the weekend evenings away from home and rise later at the weekend. 
  2. Creatures of Habit – Spend the majority of the day at home and have a constant energy use during the day and higher consumption at night. 
  3. The patter of tiny feet - Young pre-school families with a parent who has chosen to stay at home to care for the children. 
  4. Irregular Hours - Customers may have irregular working hours and have generally low energy usage.
  5. Fun in the Sun - Spend a large amount of time out during the summer months and more time indoors during winter. 
  6. Green Fingers Brigade - High summer peak in the evening during the summer as opposed to the winter could indicate the use of garden equipment, such as lawn mowers. 
  7. Carpe Diem - Use very little energy during the week and their weekend energy is greater than all other categories. They have the highest energy usage in the morning period.
  8. The School Run - Increased heating over the winter months and significant reduction in energy usage around 15:00 during the working week.
  9. Technology Multi-Taskers – Users leave appliances on during the daytime. The high and sustained evening period indicates several people watching television, while also using computers. 
  10. Generation X-Box - Out of the home for the majority of the day but consume a large quantity of energy in the evening. Exhibits the behaviour of young professionals who share a house and have many games consoles, televisions and computers within bedrooms as well as living rooms.

Stewart Reid, Head of Asset Management and Innovation at SSEN, said: “We took the approach of energy characterisation to better understand how the homes on our network, and the people in them, use electricity. By using this data we are able to get a detailed view of electricity usage on the circuits and substations at a home-by-home level.

“Knowledge of these different patterns of usage will help us know whether a circuit might need traditional reinforcement by upgrading the infrastructure in the area or whether the deployment of smart technology and control systems can help us better manage the electricity load on the network. Both solutions have their merits and every street will be different. Taking this approach will ensure we are investing in the network to provide best value for money for electricity users, while ensuring a reliable electricity supply.”

The five year £30m New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) project, funded through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, has now concluded and its closedown event took place on 28 and 29 March. The project team ran many trials to improve the industry’s understanding of future electricity usage, which will help shape the transition to a low carbon economy. As new technologies connect to the electricity network such as electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar panels, electricity demand is set to be significantly more volatile, which will require active management. The NTVV project explored a number of different methods to achieve this including electricity network monitoring, as well as utilising battery storage and thermal storage.

Partners in the NTVV project were: GE – Grid Solutions, DNV-Kema, Honeywell, EA Technology, Bracknell Forest Council, University of Reading and University of Oxford.

For more information on the New Thames Valley Vision project please visit http://www.thamesvalleyvision.co.uk/.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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